Combines familiar picture-book tropes into something clever and new.

SUPERHEROES DON'T BABYSIT

Dealing with a little brother is a huge distraction from being a superhero, but it may also be just the job for a young masked avenger.

With a bit of the cause-and-effect feel of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this book describes the thankless task a young superhero takes on when her dad asks her to babysit. The unnamed characters spend the day dealing with messes and grabs for attention, culminating in a near meltdown (from the hero, who longs to shout, “I WISH YOU WEREN’T MY BROTHER!”). But it ends with the younger child’s offer of a favorite teddy bear and a hug, and the hero’s embrace of the idea that “MAYBE little brothers aren’t so bad after all.” It’s well-worn territory: the ubiquity of superhero entertainment, the writing style, and the lesson. But the elements jell well, and the illustrations strike a fresh balance, featuring aged photos, bygone wallpaper backgrounds, and restrained use of comic-book–style panels. The stakes are real-life pint-sized, not stretched to fantastical proportions, making the unnamed superhero’s journey all the more accessible. Any caregiver who has witnessed siblings start World War III over a hairbrush will appreciate this caped crusade, which effectively makes the case that putting aside sibling rivalry is a job big enough for a superhero. Dad and kids all have light-brown skin, theirs lighter than his.

Combines familiar picture-book tropes into something clever and new. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5064-5876-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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